Land that was once a High Country sheep station is now a flourishing vineyard. Sheep and rabbits coexisted on the land for some time but the sheep couldn’t keep up with the nocturnal activity of the rabbits and were hopelessly outnumbered. They were driven off the land and were last seen heading north. The owner of the Rabbit Ranch, Mr. McGregor tried a number of measures to rid the land of the rabbits at the turn of the century, but was unsuccessful. In the end, he decided to plant some vines and make wine.
The vineyard fell into decline after World War II until direct descendants of Mr McGregor, Warren and Betty McGregor, decided to replant the vineyard. And as they say . . . the rest is history.
Rabbits still run wild on the vineyard and fueled by high altitude Pinot grapes, some are reputed to be the size of ponies. But that could be another tall story...
Rabbit Ranch is a collaborative venture, formed by a group of vineyards that were all individually once part of a Central Otago sheep station. Banding together to form Rabbit Ranch, they have enlisted the help of Chard Farm as a production partner, and secured the services of John Wallace, Chard Farm's Winemaker, and Pinot Noir producer of many years.
The Vineyards of Rabbit Ranch are located in the Cromwell Basin, predominately in the Lowburn area. They are all on light, stony soils, on areas that were once part of the glacial riverbed that flowed through the Cromwell area. The grapes that come from these young vineyards, produce an early release, fruit-driven style of Pinot. It has all the hallmark flavors of Central Otago, yet is very approachable and provides an excellent entry level Pinot Noir.
Central Otago is the most southerly wine-producing region in the world. The vineyards are the highest in New Zealand at 200 to 400 meters above sea level, where they cling precariously to the steep slopes of lakesides and the edges of deep river gorges, often rich in glacial soils. Central Otago is a sheltered inland area with a continental microclimate characterized by hot, dry summers, short, cool autumns and crisp, cold winters